Monday 7 October 2019

GIGA - Garbage-in, Garbage-out... Mainstream popular discourse on sexual relationships

I used to be a professional evolutionary psychologist, researching and teaching the subject for more than 20 years. I was pretty careful to state my assumptions - which was that Ev Psych was a model of human behaviour that assumed the correctness of Natural Selection as a major influence on human psychology. It was not the only, nor necessarily the most important influence - and in many situations it was not relevant.

Yet, although careful to state these assumptions, there was a strong tendency to assume that Ev Psych was indeed the primary influence on human behaviour. In other words, discoursing on the subject tended to convert an assumption into a personal motivation.

More accurately, from a combination of habit and expertise, I tended to regard what was actually an assumption as a discovery; converting what was assumed into an apparent fact about the world.

This type of thing is rampant in the modern world - indeed defines the modern world (called positivism, scientism, reductionism, materialism...). Because I was deep into it, and came out from it (mostly...) I am perhaps able to see this with more clarity than most - I have been sensitised to it.

So, what about sex and relationships? There is a pseudo-biological, bastardised Ev Psych that dominates most discussion. I can see that there is an assumption in mainstream public discourse - and in analytic writings on the subject, that human sexuality is about having sex (especially with attractive people).

From a biological perspective this is a plain error, since Ev Psych is about having babies - and the link between having sex and having babies is so broken (by contraception and abortion) that there are plenty of people with more marriages than children; and indeed in some surveys the most children (on average) come from people who are once married, and have had one lifetime sexual partner.

There is a biological error - but the problem is much deeper than that because we should not be regarding ourselves a reproducing organisms, as if that was (or should be) our prime consideration.

The irony is that men reproduced successfully when they were primarily religious, and as soon as they began to regard themselves as 'higher animals' with biological goals, average reproduction slipped below minimum replacement levels, and such populations first began to age, and more recently become genetically degraded and move toward extinction.

Yet this discourse is still a grossly simplified,hence distorted model. It is clear by their actual behaviours ('revealed preferences') that people do not really regard themselves biologically, and show no sign ever of doing so. Indeed unnatural, non-reproductive, forms of sex and sexuality are being officially encouraged at global, national and local levels. So biology has about as little current relevance (except as an unavoidable constraint, dishonestly denied) as is imaginable.

How, then, ought people to talk about sexual relationships?

Well, first they must be clear with themselves what is their primary motivation. Someone who wants to marry one person for life and raise a family has a totally different perspective, hence attitudes and behaviours; from one who is motivated to have sex-without-strings with many attractive people; perhaps ideally a new person each week, or every few days...

The difference is spiritual, ultimately - it is the difference in a person's vision of what life should be; and this is based on an understanding of what life actually is.

If people were coherent, this would lead them straight back to First Things; to a discovery and evaluation of their own primary assumptions about 'Life, The Universe and Everything' - for example whether this world is created or accidental, whether it is personal or abstract and so forth.

But people are not coherent, indeed most people are psychotic in their denials and delusions. And this is a consequence of having chosen to live by the implicit mainstream assumption that human life, at its root/ depth/ the bottom-line, is 'about' no more than personal feelings.

It ought to be obvious that if our assumptions are that human life is a kind of emotional garbage; then we will lead our life on that basis. If we regard ourselves as disposable trash, and talk that way - to others in public and our-selves in private - we will become garbage, 'human resources'... to be burned, deployed as bio-landfill, or dismembered for salvage and recycling.

If we see life as a maximisation of pleasure and minimisation of suffering - we will regard sexual relations as an endless war of attempted manipulation and exploitation of other people to that end.

There will be a few winners, and many losers - but (because we are talking about pleasure) all 'victories' will be temporary, and habituation will mean that repeated pleasures lose effect. Everyone will be a loser sooner or later - victory is merely to be a winner now.

But everybody, without exception, loses in the end: which is death.


Adil said...

"It is clear by their actual behaviours ('revealed preferences') that people do not really regard themselves biologically, and show no sign ever of doing so."

This is my conclusion as well. Leftist humanism does not view humanity in biological terms. It views us at a social level only, with its back against nature. Biology becomes a secondary 'background' nuisance, and is seen as a burden. This reflects the fact that humanity itself has stepped outside of and circumvented nature, through technological "escapism". At face-value, we are ascribed a biological nature, as "objects", but as biological reality is in fact circumvented as well as conspired against, Left-ism becomes Spiritual in an inversed kind of way. Biology, and even the climate, is indeed to be overcome, as the world turns into an anthropocentric playground of 'controlled environments', where nature is a mere environmental "landscape" that no longer haunts us. This is what "sustainable development" seems to mean in spiritual terms. And I think you have brought up this before - that the Establishment carries a 'hidden' transhumanistic Spiritual agenda, under the guise of scientific "neutrality".

Bruce Charlton said...

@Eric. This can be seen in modern pseudo-environmenalism; about which I have ranted a few times.

What began as a self-sufficiency and self-help grassroots movement; has become a top-down lying mass-manipulation (focused on a certain model/ definition of 'climate'); paid-for and managed by billionaires, multinational govts and corporations, agencies and the mass media (e.g. Climate Emergency/ Extinction 'Rebellion'). Everything to do with the totalitarian agenda, nothing to do with the real environment.

But, as I often say, this does serve the purpose of dividing and separating the sheep from the goats. The gray areas are almost non-existent; honest people are getting further and further away from the dishonest. And such clarity has value.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Eric - In sum, this is yet-another of the blog posts in which I argue that things can't *get* better until after Western populations *want* something better.

The underlying problem in the West is that our mass-average motivations are secular-hedonic hence 1. wrong, and 2. weak. They are wrong because they are hedonic, and weak because they are secular.

This is why we are so gullible and easily manipulated into value-inversion and (therefore) self-chosen damnation/ active-evil.

Sackerson said...

What do you make of the section of this article re the Yanomami Indians and genetically reinforced tendency to violence (esp. over access to women), which I read yesterday?

Bruce B said...

“in some surveys the most children (on average) come from people who are once married, and have had one lifetime sexual partner”

I am once married to my one sexual partner and I have eight children (so far).

Bruce Charlton said...

@S - The Y. are an agricultural tribe - not hunter gatherers - and almost all the people (including children) are addicted to tobacco. So, they are in no sense like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, they are not in the 'natural' state - they are just a type of agrarian tribe that happens to have been extensively studied.

The Kalahari Bushmen (Kung San) are - by contrast - probably living the same kind of life as our ancestors.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - There you go!...

Lucinda said...

There’s an interesting thing that happens. From women’s perspective, peer sampling leads her to feel it odd to have lots of kids. Meanwhile most single kids’ peer sampling will make them feel weird and lonely for having no siblings, since most kids come from above average-sized families. Zero, one, and even two-child families account for a large proportion of families, but provide for a minority of the child population. Men seem to hold onto ideas formed in youth, whereas women are more influenced by their current peer-group.